Former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) said he’s still open to running for president next year, despite his statement almost three years ago that he would back out of politics,
“Anything is possible,” he told the Taipei Times on Monday.
“I believe politicians shouldn’t make an absolute denial on certain things,” said Hsieh, who was the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate in 2008. “I mean, years ago I said I would back out of politics.”
As for making another run for president, Hsieh said: “All sorts of possibilities are possible.”
The DPP is expected to settle on its presidential and vice president nominees in the next two or three months.
Hsieh lost to his Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) rival, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), by more than 2 million votes, reversing the gains made by former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) in his 2004 re-election.
However, Hsieh’s popularity has seen a resurgence recently, following his election as a DPP Standing Committee member and a series of comments on cross-strait relations earlier this month.
Hsieh’s return to the ranks of possible candidates has drawn mixed reactions in the DPP, with insiders saying his recent remarks have been “testing the waters.”
“Hsieh is obviously playing word games. He’s making these statements to test the reactions from grassroots supporters,” a Standing Committee member said on condition of anonymity.
DPP legislators have said that regardless of who the party’s presidential candidate turns out to be, they wanted the nomination process to be unmarred by controversy.
“Whatever happens, we don’t want to see the DPP fall back into the kind of infighting of the primaries for 2008,” DPP Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) said.
Former premier Yu Shyi-kun (游錫堃), who had been seen as a possible contender for the New Taipei City (新北市) mayoral election last year, has reportedly ruled out joining the presidential race.
The Chinese-language United Daily News said Yu was seeking to play a more meaningful role in crafting DPP policy.
The DPP will begin discussing its presidential ticket nominations after the Lunar New Year holiday, with a final decision likely in late March or April, party officials said.
The candidates will be chosen based on public telephone polls, after a recent revision to party rules adopted by the party’s National Congress last Saturday phased out a vote by party members.
Meanwhile, Jack Chen (陳嘉爵), the director of former president Chen Shui-bian’s office, said former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) misquoted her former running mate when she said he opposed the revisions to the selection mechanism.
Lu appeared to have misconstrued Chen Shui-bian’s remarks when the two met at Taipei Prison on Tuesday, Jack Chen said.
“I don’t think she caught Chen Shui-bian’s meaning,” he said. “What he said was that he respected the DPP’s opinion and didn’t want to see internal friction.”
Lu and other DPP politicians have been scrambling to meet the former president, who is serving a 17-and-a-half-year sentence for corruption, ahead of next week’s Lunar New Year holiday.
Chen still has a group of supporters, including city councilors and lawmakers, with whom he communicates through biweekly statements known as “A-bian’s Notes.” DPP Secretary-General Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全), who led a DPP delegation to visit him yesterday, said the former president kept abreast of political developments.
“I listened to [Chen Shui-bian] the whole visit,” Su said. “He said that as the revisions were passed by 70 percent of the delegates who voted on Saturday … it has become the consensus and everybody should unite [behind it].”
“Because he didn’t believe using polls or a party member vote would have an impact on the final nomination results, he had pushed for such a policy four years ago,” Su said.
Lu, a vocal opponent of the revisions, had quoted Chen Shui-bian as saying that a party that ignored its members was an example of “democracy going backwards.”
Jack Chen and his colleagues said they would be closely monitoring what is said about their boss.
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